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Composer of the Week

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Donald Macleod reflects on Franz Liszt’s Hungarian story – he spent little time there and couldn’t speak the language but just how important to his music was the land of his birth?

Music Featured:

Hungarian Rhapsody No 8 in F sharp minor
Die Drei Zigeuner
Symphonic Poem: From the Cradle to the Grave
Fantasy on Motifs from Beethoven’s ‘Ruinen von Athen’
Variation on a Theme of Diabelli
Hungarian Rhapsody No 10 in E – ‘Preludio’
Hungarian Rhapsody No 5 in E minor ‘Heroide-elegiaque’
Six Grandes Etudes de Paganini – No 6 “La Campanella”
Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Themes
Hungarian Rhapsody No 15 ‘Rakoczy March’
Arbeiterchor
Symphonic Poem – ‘Hungaria’
Liebestraum No 1 ‘Hohe Lieb’
‘Magyarok Istene’ (version for organ)
2 Légendes – No 2 ‘St Francois de Paule marchant sur les flots’
Hungarian Coronation Mass – II. ‘Gloria’
Hungarian Rhapsody No 9 in flat ‘Pesther Carnival – II. Finale presto
Piano Concerto No 2 in A
Hungarian Rhapsody No 6 in D flat
Hungarian Rhapsody No 4 in d minor (orchestal arrangement)
Die Legende von der Heiligen Elisabeth – Part 2 (“Death of Elisabeth”; “Chorus of Angels”)
Hungarian Portraits – “Mosonyi Grabgeleit”
Cardas Macabre (arr. for Hungarian folk instruments)
Seven Sacramenta – Responsories V. ‘Extreme unctio’
Hungarian Rhapsody No 11 in a minor

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Chris Wines

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Franz Liszt (1811-1886) https://ift.tt/3AiizGB

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Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Jean-Baptiste Lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully was the most influential French composer of the 17th Century, a key figure in the court of Louis XIV. This week, Donald Macleod explores how Lully rose from humble origins in Italy to become the most powerful musician in France, a story of lies, ambition and intrigue.

Music Featured:

Phaëton, LWV 61, Overture
Le Carnaval, LWV 52, Overture
Le Carnaval, LWV 52 (Air “Son dottor per occasion”)
Dies Irae, LWV 64/1
Dances – Les noces de village, LWV 19 (excerpts)
Psyché, LWV 56 (Finale)
Atys, LWV 53, Overture
Anon – Les Nuits Ballet: Ouverture
Ballet royal de Flore, LWV 40 (excerpt)
Ballet royal des amours déguisés, LWV 21 (Air “Ah! Rinaldo, e dove sei?”)
L’amour malade, LWV 8
Jubilate Deo – Motet de la paix, LWV 77/16
Alcidiane, LWV 9, Ouverture
Armide, LWV 71 (End of Act II)
Ballet Naissance de Venus, LWV 27 (excerpt)
Le Triomphe de l’amour, LWV 59 (excerpts)
Miserere, LWV 25
Les Plaisirs de l’île enchantée, LWV 22 (Divertisment No 5)
Le Carrousel de Monseigneur, LWV 72 (Marches Militaires)
La Princesse d’Elide, LWV 22 (Quand l’amour a nos yeux)
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, LWV 43 (excerpt)
Psyché, LWV 45, Act I “Deh, piangete al pianto mio”
Cadmus et Hermione, LWV 49 (Marche pour le sacrifice; ‘C’est vainement que l’on espère’)
Te Deum, LWV 55 (Sinfonie and Te deum laudamus)
Thesée, LWV 51 (end of Act V)
La Bourgeois Gentilhomme, LWV 43 (La cérémonie turque)
Armide, LWV 71, Overture
De Profundis, LWV 62 (Requiem aeternum)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Sam Phillips for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) https://ift.tt/33EVykY

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Errollyn Wallen

Donald Macleod chats to composer Errollyn Wallen about her life and work

Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen has been called a “renaissance woman of contemporary music”. She’s a remarkably versatile and prolific composer, pianist and songwriter and one of our most in-demand musical voices today. She was the first black woman to have a piece performed at the Proms in 1998 and her music opened the 2012 Paralympic games. She’s even been performed in space, aboard NASA’s STS115 mission. Wallen writes in a kaleidoscopic range of styles; her music constantly crosses and re-crosses musical boundaries and it brims over with a sense of adventure and delight. This week, Donald Macleod gets to know Errollyn as she dials into his studio from her Scottish lighthouse where she retreats to concentrate on her work.

Music Featured:

I Wouldn’t Normally Say
It’s a Quarter to Nine
Percussion Concerto (2nd movement – excerpt)
Louis’ Loops
Photography
NNENNA
My Granny Sarah
Woogie Boogie
Dervish
Concerto Grosso
Horseplay (1st and 2nd movements)
In Our Lifetime
TIGER
Lines
It all depends on you (excerpt)
The Girl in My Alphabet
Three Ships (IV – Some Trouble)
Red (Homage to Rodrigo)
Greenwich Variations
What’s Up Doc?
Daedalus
Five Postcards
About Here
Tree
Of Crumpling Rocks
Are you worried about the rising cost of funerals? (i. beehive; iv. guru)
Peace on Earth
Jerusalem, our clouded hills
gun gun gun
Mighty River
Cello Concerto (excerpt)
See That I am God

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Amelia Parker for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Errollyn Wallen https://ift.tt/3JPYyvd

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

Donald Macleod delves into the operas of Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini was man of the theatre to his fingertips. Born in Lucca in 1858, into a distinguished family of church musicians, Puccini was never destined to follow in his forebears’ footsteps. His fate was sealed when as a teenager he walked thirty miles to hear Verdi’s Aida. He knew immediately that theatre was his calling and from that point on he wrote almost exclusively for the stage.

A perfectionist and an often unreasonable taskmaster, Puccini agonised over each of his operas. Beginning with Manon Lescaut, the opera that launched Puccini internationally, this week Donald Macleod follows the off and the on-stage dramas of La Boheme, Tosca, Madam Butterfly, La fanciulla del West, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Il tabarro and the opera he left incomplete at his death in 1924, his final masterpiece, Turandot. The stories on stage are interleaved with events in his personal life, from an early scandal over his affair with a married woman and some very dodgy skulduggery in his business dealings, to the suicide of one of his servants, a tragedy of such proportion, he was plunged in to a deep depression, haunted by the events for the rest of his life.

This week, Donald Macleod celebrates a composer whose music expresses every human emotion, there’s a host of landmark recordings, including the voices of Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorghiu, Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna. We’ll hear Mimì’s touching calling card from La Boheme, in the classic Victoria de los Angeles version, while Renato Scotto pours all Madam Butterfly’s hopes into the heart-breaking Un bel dì. There’s the raw pain of Sister Angelica mourning her dead son, and the dark desperation of a jealous husband in Il tabarro. On Wednesday Callas and Gobbi’s anguished, sadistic torture scene in Tosca still has the power to shock us as much as it did on its first night in 1900. It’s high stakes and nail-biting tension in La fanciulla del West as Minnie trades the life of her outlaw lover on the outcome of a card game. Joan Sutherland’s icy Princess Turandot, a magnificent pairing with Luciano Pavarotti’s Prince Calaf comes on Friday along with a certain aria made famous by the 1990 world cup, heard here in the hands of another Puccini specialist, Jussi Björling.

Music Featured:

Manon Lescaut, Act 1: Donna non vidi mai
Le Villi, Act 1: Preghiera: Angiol di dio
Messa di Gloria (Credo)
Crisantemi
Manon Lescaut, Act 2: Dispettosetto questo Riccio!; In quelle trine morbide
Manon Lescaut, Act 4: Sola, perduta, abbandonata; Fra le tue bracce amore
La Bohème, Act 1: Mi chiamano Mimì
La Bohème, Act 1: Pensier profondo!; Legna!; Si può
Capriccio sinfonico
La Bohème, Act 3: Donde lieta uscì; Dunque è proprio finita….Addio, dolce svegliare
Tosca, Act 1 (excerpt)
Tosca, Act 1: Ah! Finalmente (excerpt)
Vissi d’arte, Act 2 (excerpt)
Tosca, Act 2 (excerpt)
Tosca, Act 3 (excerpt)
Madama Butterfly, Act 1 (excerpt)
Madama Butterfly, Act 1: Viene la sera; Vogliatemi bene
Gianni Schicchi (O mio babbino caro)
Gianni Schicchi (excerpt)
Il tabarro (Nulla silenzio!)
La fanciulla del West, Act 1 (excerpt)
La fanciulla del West, Act 2: Una partita a poker!
Suor Angelica (excerpt)
Turandot (Nessun Dorma)
Madam Butterfly, Act 2: Un bel dì vedremo
Madam Butterfly, Act 2: Una nave da guerra; Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio; Or vieni ad adornar
Turandot, Act 1: In Questa Reggia; Ascolta straniera; Gloria o vincitore!
La Boheme, Act 4: Fingevo dormire

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) https://ift.tt/3sLo1zS

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Donald Macleod explores Mozart’s prolific final years.

Five years before Mozart’s premature death aged 35, the composer felt at the top of his game. He was performing regularly in Vienna and his music was beloved throughout the city. However, the Austro-Turkish War between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire would soon have a negative impact on Mozart’s prospects, along with changing musical taste in the Austrian capital. The nobility had more important things to do than hold concerts and commission new music. Money was in shorter supply. As a composer for hire, Mozart had to change tack and write chamber music for publication and for performance in middle class homes, rather than concertos for the nobility.

Music Featured:

Horn Concerto No 4 in E flat major, K 495 (I. Allegro maestoso)
Piano Concerto No 24 in C minor, K 491 (I. Allegro)
Sonata for Piano 4 Hands in F major, K 497 (I. Adagio – Allegro di molto)
Symphony No 38 in D major, K 504 “Prague” (I. Adagio – Allegro)
Symphony No 39 in E flat major, K 543 (I. Adagio – Allegro)
Adagio in B minor, K 540
Divertimento in E flat major, K 563 (II. Adagio)
Clarinet Quintet in A major, K 581 (II. Larghetto)
Piano Sonata No. 17 in B flat major, K 570 (I. Allegro)
Gigue in G major, K 574, “Leipziger Gigue”
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K 492, Act 1 (excerpt)
Symphony No 41 in C major, K 551, “Jupiter” (II. Andante cantabile)
Don Giovanni, K 527, Act II (excerpt)
Così fan tutte, K 588 (excerpts)
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620, Act II: Allegro
Ave verum corpus, K 618
6 German Dances, K 600 (No 1 in C Major; No 3 in B-Flat Major; No 6 in D Major)
Kyrie in D minor, K 341
Piano Concerto No 27 in B flat major, Op 17, K 595 (I. Allegro)
String Quintet No 6 in E flat major, K 614 (I. Allegretto di molto, IV. Allegro)
Fantasia in F minor for mechanical organ, K 608 (arr. for wind quintet)
La Clemenza di Tito, K 621, Act I: Quintetto con poro)
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K 622 (I. Allegro, II. Adagio)
Requiem in D minor, K 626 (completed by F.X. Sussmayr)(except)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Iain Chambers

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) https://ift.tt/30URSu8

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Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns once said “I produce music as an apple tree produces apples.” In his day, that fruit was gobbled up all across Europe where the composer was acclaimed as the greatest of all French musicians. Liszt called him the greatest organist in the world. Yet in France, and in his home city of Paris, he was not always so highly regarded, despite his strong bond with his homeland. This week, as we mark the centenary of his death, Donald Macleod delves into the life and work of Saint-Saëns, charting the changing relationship with France of one of the greatest musicians that the country has ever produced.

Music Featured:

Samson and Delilah, Op 47 (Bacchanale)
Le Soir
Piano Quintet in A minor, Op 14 (III. Presto)
Le muse et la poete, Op 132
Piano Trio No 2 in E minor, Op 92 (I. Allegro non troppo)
Symphony in F major “Urbs Roma” (II. Molto Vivace)
Fantaisie in D-flat major, Op 101
Tarantella in A minor, Op 6
The Carnival of the Animals (Aquarium; The Swan; Finale)
Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor, Op 22
Danse Macabre, Op 40
Marche Heroique, Op 34 (2 piano version)
Phaeton, Op 39
Allegro appasionato in B minor, Op 43
Le Deluge, Op 45 (Prelude)
Requiem, Op 54 (Sanctus; Benedictus; Agnus Dei)
Reverie
Henry VIII, Act 2: “Reine! Je serai reine!”
Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78 “Organ Symphony” (Finale)
Suite Algerienne, Op 60
Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, Op. 167 (III. Lento)
Ascanio – Act V, Scene 2: Tableau 7 (excerpt)
Desir de l’orient
Piano Concerto No 5 in F, Op 103 ‘Egyptian’ (III. Molto Allegro)
L’Assassinat du duc de Guise, Op 128
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op 28
Calme des nuits, Op 68, No 1

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Sam Phillips

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) https://ift.tt/3p0pXlL

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Mark-Anthony Turnage (b 1960)

Donald Macleod is joined by the composer Mark-Anthony Turnage

Mark-Anthony Turnage is a man with a reputation for shaking up the world of British classical music – a composer with a distinctive and rebellious creative voice. His work vividly fuses influences of jazz, soul and contemporary pop with music that remains boldly and defiantly avant-garde. It’s music that packs a punch, yet whose visceral impact accompanies a deep lyricism and emotion. Over four decades, Turnage’s work has tackled social commentary: domestic violence, drug abuse, and the refugee crisis. But he’s also a composer with a subversive streak, with an opera exploring the life of former Playboy model Anna-Nicole Smith, and orchestral pieces inspired by his beloved Arsenal football club and pop superstar Beyoncé.

Music Featured:

Greek, Act 1: Breakfast Quartet
On Opened Ground (1st mvt)
Night Dances (3rd mvt, Nocturne)
Greek, Act 1: Prologue and Wine Bar Music; Act 2: Journey to the Sphinx…
Three Farewells (All Will Be Well)
Blood On The Floor (Blood On The Floor)
Set To
Three Screaming Popes
Twice Through The Heart (Part Two)
Your Rockaby (excerpt)
True life stories (Tune for Toru)
The Silver Tassie, Act 1: Oh Bring To Me A Pint Of Wine
Slide Stride
The Silver Tassie, Act 2, Scene 2 (excerpt)
The Silver Tassie, Act 4 Scene 3
Scorched (Let’s Say We Did)
Remembering (4th mvt)
Hammered Out
From The Wreckage
Anna Nicole, Act 1 (excerpt)
Texan Tenebrae
Twisted Blues With Twisted Ballad (Reflections on “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin)
Milo, for solo cello
Piano Concerto (2nd mvt, “Last Lullaby For Hans”)
UNDANCE (excerpts)
Concerto for Two Violins “Shadow Walker” (2nd & 3rd mvts)
Speranza (4th mvt, Tikvah)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Steven Rajam, for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Mark-Anthony Turnage (b 1960) https://ift.tt/3GrUAGw

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Emilie Mayer (1812-1883)

Donald Macleod uncovers the story of a forgotten luminary of 19th century music

Composer of the Week explores the remarkable life and music of Emilie Mayer, who was known in her lifetime as the Female Beethoven. Born in Germany, in 1812, Mayer is considered by some to be the most prolific female composer of the Romantic period. She was held in high regard by the musical establishment of her time and appointed co-director of the Opera Academy in Berlin. Royalty frequently attended Mayer’s concerts and awarded her gold medals for her music and other artistic endeavours. In 1883 when Mayer died, she was buried in a place of honour, near to Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn. Donald Macleod is joined by Katy Hamilton throughout the week, to explore Mayer’s life and the environment in which she flourished.

Music Featured:

Overture in C
Piano Sonata in D minor (excerpt)
Piano Quartet in E flat (Allegro)
Symphony No 1 in C minor (Adagio – Allegro)
Symphony No 2 in E minor (Un poco adagio – Allegro assai)
String Quartet in G minor, Op 14 (Scherzo)
Piano Concerto in B flat (excerpt)
Symphony No 2 in E minor (excerpt)
Tonwellen (Waltz)
Symphony No 3 in C, “Military” (excerpt)
String Quartet in G minor, Op 14 (Allegro appasionato)
Symphony No 4 in B minor (excerpt)
Symphony No 4 in B minor (Allegro appassionato)
Piano Quartet in E flat major (Finale Allegro)
Piano Trio in B minor, Op 16 (Scherzo)
Symphony No 6 in E (excerpt)
Piano Concerto in B flat (Allegro)
Symphony No 6 in E (Adagio – Allegro con spirito)
Notturno, Op 48
Overture to Faust, Op 46

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Emilie Mayer (1812-1883) https://ift.tt/3dj3CJI

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Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021)

As part of his 80th birthday celebrations in 2010, Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim looked back over his life and work, with Donald Macleod. The result is a fascinating retrospective of half a century of creativity, with the artist himself as tour guide. Along the way, he explodes a few myths about the inner workings of musical theatre.

Sondheim starts by talking about his childhood, his parents’ divorce, his near-adoption by the Hammerstein family and his apprenticeship with Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist of Oklahoma! Then there’s the rollercoaster ride of his early career: his first, abortive Broadway show; two amazing breaks, when he was commissioned to write the lyrics for first West Side Story, then Gypsy; his unhappy collaboration with Richard Rogers; and his major creative breakthrough with Company, a musical with situations and characters but no conventional plot, and the first appearance of characteristic Sondheim subject-matter – the virtual impossibility of forming good relationships. As one British critic observed, “It is extraordinary that a musical, that most trivial of forms, should be able to plunge as Company does, with perfect congruity, into the profound depths of human perplexity and misery.”.

Next, and in typical Sondheim fashion, Stephen expands the notion of what the musical could be, with razor-sharp language and cracking tunes to boot: Follies, in which a reunion of Ziegfield-style Follies stars in a derelict theatre becomes a metaphor for the death of the American dream; A Little Night Music, a musical about relationships written almost entirely in waltz-time, that spawned Sondheim’s most famous song, ‘Send in the Clowns’; and Pacific Overtures, a ‘kabuki musical’ with an all-Japanese cast – an exploration of the 19th-century westernization of Japan, seen from the Japanese perspective.

Sweeney Todd is widely regarded as Sondheim’s masterpiece, an extraordinarily powerful work which he has modestly described as “a small and scary evening about the need for revenge.”. Sweeney Todd was a huge success and is widely performed today, from schools (in a special educational edition) to opera houses. Whereas Merrily We Roll Along, failed to catch the public mood. It is a tale of disintegrating friendships and compromised idealism, narrated, in a characteristic structural twist, backwards. Despite a marvellous score, it remains Sondheim’s biggest flop to date. Among other topics, Sondheim also discusses his long-time collaboration with director Hal Prince, the logistics of working with an orchestrator, and the heart attack he suffered in 1979, just three weeks after the opening of Sweeney.

Next, the musical that grew out of a painting; a tangled web of fairytales; and a positively murderous show about the assassins, and would-be-assassins, of US presidents. The painting in question is Seurat’s hugely famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and the work it inspired was the Pulitzer-prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George, a deeply personal show about the joys and the costs of creation. The fairytales are the ones familiar to every child, but in Into the Woods they are woven together in an extraordinarily intricate way, before completely unravelling in the second act. Assassins caused a huge furore when it was unveiled in 1990, not least because it happened to coincide with the opening salvo of the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm – under such circumstances, a show that climaxed with the assassination of JFK was bound to be interpreted as deeply unpatriotic. Sondheim also talks about the logistics of mounting a Broadway production, and the pleasures of “trancing out” during the creative process.

Finally, Passion, a kind of reversal of the Beauty and the Beast myth, which Sondheim has described as “one long rhapsody, a straightforward, non-ironic love story”; The Frogs, a contemporary take on Aristophanes originally staged in the swimming pool at Yale University (with Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver in the chorus line); and Road Show, a musical about the Mizner brothers which proves the old adage that “musicals aren’t written, they’re re-written” – it’s currently in its fourth incarnation.

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